|Water Margin character|
|Nickname||"Heaven Shaking Thunder"
|Rank||52nd, Assist Star (地輔星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends|
|Pyrotechnics unit commander of Liangshan|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Yanling (believed to be present-day Yanling County, Xuchang, Henan)|
|First appearance||Chapter 55|
Ling Zhen is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 52nd of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 16th of the 72 Earthly Fiends. He is nicknamed "Heaven Shaking Thunder".
Ling Zhen is from Yanling (燕陵; believed to be present-day Yanling County, Xuchang, Henan). He not only excels in military arts and archery, but is also an expert in using gunpowder, cannons and pyrotechnics. He serves as a military officer in the imperial army.
Becoming an outlaw
Emperor Huizong commissions the general Huyan Zhuo, with Han Tao and Peng Qi as his deputies, to lead an army to eliminate the outlaws at Liangshan Marsh. Huyan Zhuo gains the upper hand in the initial stages of the battle with his seemingly impregnable chain-linked armoured cavalry formation, but Peng Qi defects to Liangshan after being captured by the outlaws. Huyan Zhuo then seeks permission from the imperial court to allow Ling Zhen to assist him and his request is granted. Ling Zhen leads reinforcements to support Huyan Zhuo and brings along an arsenal of firearms and cannons. He displays his prowess in the battle by terrorising the outlaws through bombarding Liangshan with cannon fire.
Wu Yong, Liangshan's chief strategist, devises a plan to stop Ling Zhen: He orders the Liangshan navy to infiltrate Ling's base at night, sabotage the cannons, and lure Ling to follow them into the marshes. Ling Zhen falls for the ruse and pursues the retreating outlaws deep into the marshes, where his boat is capsized by the outlaws, who are hiding underwater. He is captured and brought before Song Jiang, who treats him respectfully and successfully convinces him to join the Liangshan cause.
Ling Zhen is placed in charge of the pyrotechnics unit of Liangshan's armed forces after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. He follows the heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong. During the campaign against the rebel leader Fang La, Ling Zhen bombards the enemy cities heavily with cannon fire and creates chaos. The Liangshan heroes then take advantage of the situation to attack and occupy the cities.
Ling Zhen is one of the few lucky survivors after the calamitous final campaign against Fang La. He returns to the capital and is offered an official post by the emperor in recognition of his contributions during the campaigns. He accepts the offer and is reinstated as a military officer in the imperial army's pyrotechnics unit.
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 105. EPB Publishers Pte Ltd, 1992. ISBN 9971-0-0252-3.
- Buck, Pearl. All Men are Brothers. Moyer Bell Ltd, 2006. ISBN 9781559213035.
- Zhang, Lin Ching. Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House, 2009. ISBN 978-7506344784.
- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.
- Miyamotois, Yoko. Water Margin: Chinese Robin Hood and His Bandits.
- (Japanese) Ichisada, Miyazaki. Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu. Chuo Koronsha, 1993. ISBN 978-4122020559.
- Shibusawa, Kou. Bandit Kings of Ancient China, page 94. KOEI, 1989.